Not so honorary consul

Businessman Sulav Agarwal and the diplomatic car he used to make delivery of black market infra-red thermometers.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has withdrawn certain facilities granted to honorary consuls of countries without embassies in Nepal after one of them was caught in a police sting operation on Tuesday trying to sell infra-red thermometers in the black market.

The decision was taken by a meeting headed by Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali in Kathmandu. There are honorary consuls from over 45 countries in Kathmandu at present, and many of them are Nepali nationals.

‘The privilege of using blue plate and the flag in official vehicle of the Honorary Consuls has been suspended with immediate effect until further notice,’ a statement from the Ministry said.

The honorary consul of Kyrgyzstan Sulav Agarwal was caught as he was making personal delivery of 67 thermal gun infra-red thermometers to police posing as buyers. In phone negotiations, Agarwal had agreed to sell the devices used to measure body temperature for coronavirus for Rs 15,000 – three times more than the retail price.

Agarwal is owner of the Shanker Group that has interests in cement, construction and textiles. He had ordered 20,000 thermal guns from China after the COVID-19 pandemic, and had brought some of them to Kathmandu last week on a special Nepal Airlines flight from Guangzhou.

One of the 67 thermal guns confiscated from Agarwal.

Agarwal has been remanded in custody for a week at the Police Station in Darbar Marg pending investigation, and will face up to five years in jail if found guilty. Agarwal has repeatedly told the police he bought the devices in the local market.

Sulav Agarwal’s honorary consul ID card.

Police was acting on a tip-off and called Agarwal on his phone posing as buyers. Agarwal arrived in Naxal to make delivery of the 67 devices driving his Mitsubishi SUV with blue Kyrgyz diplomatic plates.